Pro-Jonathan Groups Jostle for Space, Erects At Least 161 Billboards in Abuja Alone
As the 2015 general election draws nearer, group canvassing for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan are scheming to position themselves to get the ears of the president.
Presidential adviser to the president on political affairs has said few days ago that there are over 8,000 pro-Jonathan groups in the country, with more expected to spring up as the heat of the 2015 election gathers momentum.
One of the ways in which these groups makes itsself n]known and pass messages across is via the use of billboards.
Daily Trust in a report said that it counted at least 161 pro-Jonathan billboards in the streets of Abuja alone.
Daily Trust report:
No less than 161 billboards have been mounted at strategic places in Abuja praising President Goodluck Jonathan’s achievements and urging him to seek re-election in 2015.
Daily Trust reporters who compiled a tally found that of this number, the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), which has of late become the leading pro-Jonathan group, tops the list with at least 63 billboards, followed by the GEJITES which has 50.
TAN is reportedly being backed by top government officials, including Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim.
The pro-Jonathan billboards in Abuja, sponsored by 13 different groups as well as the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), bear messages canvassing support for the President to run in the 2015 presidential election.
Many of the billboards enumerate the president’s achievement in the various sectors of the economy.
The preponderance of Jonathan campaign billboards, as well as other activities of the president’s supporter groups, has been questioned by opposition politicians who say that this violates the electoral law’s provision on campaign timelines.
There have been questions also as to who finances the groups and their activities, which apparently cost lots of money. Though the Presidency has said no public funds are involved, President Jonathan’s Political Adviser Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali is coordinating activities of the groups.
Daily Trust could not confirm the specific amounts spent on the billboards, as the costs vary with location, size and period of display.
Advertising agency officials told our reporters that placing an advert on such billboards costs up to N15 million yearly.
“The cost is based on appeal, location and class of the intended audience,” one official said yesterday.
Leaders of the TAN, when contacted by Daily Trust, said their pro-Jonathan billboards in Abuja are up to 100, even though our reporters who went round the Federal Capital Territory counted 63.
From Abaji through the City Gate to Jabi Junction in Utako District, there are about 24 of Jonathan campaign billboards sponsored by different groups.
Some of them have messages calling for nationwide rallies, while others sponsored by TAN highlight the President’s achievement in various sectors and also call on Nigerians to support him for another term.
In Maitama, Asokoro, Garki, Utako, Wuse, Life Camp, Gwarimpa and other areas in the city centre, our reporters counted 25 billboards sponsored by TAN.
The same group also sponsored three billboards displaying President Jonathan’s campaign posters along Airport Junction through Galadimawa Roundabout to Lokogoma and to Kabusa Roundabout.
From Apo Mechanic village, down to Apo Roundabout, up to Garki Area 1 down to the Airport Junction, there are nine billboards sponsored by TAN.
The Unity Fountain in Maitama could be mistaken for the campaign headquarters of President Goodluck Jonathan, given the number of wheel-driven campaign posters. About 50 of such banners are displayed round the fountain, as well as an electronic mobile outdoor-advertising vehicle stationed there, all sponsored by a group known as the ‘GEJITES.’
The FCTA is not left out in the scramble to try to sell Jonathan’s ‘transformation agenda’ and his candidacy. Our reporters counted three billboards sponsored by the FCTA—two in Asokoro and one in Garki.
Another group, Youth Development Transformation and Sustainable Peace in Nigeria (YODETSIN), has two billboards, one each in Asokoro and Maitama.
The billboards are more at the Federal Secretariat than elsewhere in the city centre, with 10 of them erected in that vicinity in support of the president.
The Alliance for National Transformation (ALNAT) has one billboard nearby, and another opposite Radio House in Garki.
House 2 House, another group, placed two at the Federal Secretariat.
The Goodluck Support Group has theirs at Area 11, while the Nigeria Youth for Jonathan 2015 has one at the same place. The President’s Senior Special Assistant on MDGs placed one opposite the secretariat.
The Niger Delta Youth Leaders Council has one at the PDP presidential campaign office, Maitama, while five groups including Pesther, This is Nigeria, Rio-Jordan Int’l Oil and Gas Ltd sponsored one at the presidential campaign office as well.
Leaders of the Goodluck Initiative for Transformation (GIFT) told Daily Trust they have placed up 30 pro-Jonathan billboards in the FCT alone, with another 9 scattered in other parts of the country.
GIFT is responsible for the controversial #BringBackGoodluck 2015 signs which elicited widespread rebuke because of the apparent parodying of the campaign to free the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
President Jonathan yesterday ordered these signs to be removed, describing them as “offensive and repugnant.”
National coordinator of GIFT, Chinedu Okpalama, told Daily Trust his group spent no less than N100 million on media campaigns, including the placing of billboards, but said the funds were raised from donations by individuals.
For his part, one of the directors of TAN, Barrister Ben Chuks Nwosu, said billboards as well as other media adverts by their group were sponsored by a good spirited individual who believes in President Jonathan.
“It is somebody who has the vision that is spending his personal resources to support the president. You know when you have a vision and you believe so much in something, there is no limit to what you can do to support that cause,” he said.
He did not name the sponsor, but the Sunday Trust newspaper reported penultimate week that top government officials, including Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Anyim Pius Anyim, are among those behind TAN.
Anyim, along with several other government officials including ministers, featured prominently at recent TAN rallies in the Southeast and Southwest.
Pro-Jonathan billboards in Abuja
Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria – 63
Goodluck Initiative for Transformation (GIFT) – 30
The Alliance for National Transformation (ALNAT) – 4
Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) – 3
Youth Development Transformation and Sustainable Peace in Nigeria (YODETSIN) – 2
House 2 House – 2
Goodluck Support Group – 1
Nigeria Youth for Jonathan – 1
Niger Delta Youth Leaders Council—1
Office of the Senior Special Assistant on MDGs – 1
The Mandate Group 2015- 1
The Messiah Group — 1
PDP, Pesther, Rio-Jordan Int’l Oil and Gas Ltd, This is Nigeria – 1
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